The Vancouver International Wine Festival has come and gone, but memories of the event still run through my head. One event that I think about was the Chateau Olivier dinner at Le Gavroche downtown. If you have not been to Le Gavroche, it is a small 2 story building located at 1616 Alberni St. It has that small restaurant charm. I felt like I was welcomed into a home on the first floor where we had a reception prior to going upstairs to enjoy this wine paired dinner.
Who is Chateau Olivier?
From Wikipedia, “Château Olivier is a Bordeaux wine from the Pessac-Léognan appellation (that is on the left bank – Karl), ranked among the Premiers Crus for red and dry white wine in the Classification of Graves wine of 1953 and 1959. The winery and vineyards are located south of the city of Bordeaux, in the commune of Léognan. In addition to red and dry white Grand vin the estate also produces the second wine La Seigneurie d’Olivier du Chateau Olivier. … From a largely forested estate of 220 hectares the vineyard area consists of 50 hectares, 38 of which are planted with grape varieties of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. 12 hectares are cultivated with white varieties of 55% Sémillon, 40%Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Muscadelle.”
Our host was one of the owners of Chateau Oliver, Mr. Alexandre de Bethmann, who is a descendant of Jacques de Bethmann who married into the previous owners family in the early 20th century. Jean-Jacques de Bethmann who held the reins for many years until his death in 2012. Alexandre is a large figure, speaking perfect French, and English. In fact he has a US east coast accent as he lived in the USA for many years, which really surprised me. Alexandre pointed out that their chateau is one of only 6 allowed to produce both white and red Bordeaux wines. One thing that really caught my ear was when Alexandre mentioned that they had undertaken an indepth soil analysis over the last 1o years in order to better understand the terroir, and which grape varieties to plant in specific locations of their vineyards. With hundreds of years of history, it is gratifying to know that some vineyard properties can still benefit from an analysis of the soil (done by drilling holes/cores into the soil and analyzing the soil profile). Could other Old World wineries also benefit?
From their website “Le Gavroche is Vancouver’s longest standing French restaurant, offering modern French cuisine in a relaxed and intimate atmosphere. Opened in 1978, the setting of Le Gavroche has charmed Vancouver locals and visitors alike and has garnered international attention as one of Vancouver’s most romantic restaurants. Owner Robert Guest continues the traditions Le Gavroche began in 1978: Modern French cuisine driven by locally sourced ingredients David Auer, Director of Operations, brings to Le Gavroche a passion for fine wines. The cellar boasts an inventory of over 35,000 bottles from around the world, with a distinct focus on the regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy, along with local British Columbian wine producers. Le Gavroche offers wine selections to meet all palates and budget requirements…”
Our Wine Paired Meal
Our wine paired menu started in the first floor with canapes (pulled pork in filo pastry, grilled scallops, and more) served with the Chateau Oliver Blanc 2009 (a blend of 80% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Semillon). This wine was a nice foil to the canapes. It had a waxy, honey lemon flavour and a round mouthfeel. Moving upstairs, our pairings were:
- Black cod miso infused with Chateau Oliver Blanc 2007
- Muscovy duck breast, lavender crusted, duck jus and pear puree served with Chateau Oliver Rouge 2001, and Chateau Oliver Rouge 2005
- Sous vide lamb loin, sheep’s milk yogurt, baby vegetables, olive oil smashed potatoes, lamb jus, served with Chateau Oliver Rouge 2009
- Espresso chocolate cake with Chateau Armajan des Ormes Sauternes 2007 (This wine is not from Chateau Oliver, but a good pairing with chocolate cake!)
Our flight of wines cover the Chateau Olivier Blanc 2007 and 2009,and the Chateau Olivier Rouge 2001, 2005, and 2009.
The black cod was perfectly cooked and was very peppery. The 2007 Blanc was an OK pairing, but went much better with the mussel that was also served with the black cod.
The Muscovy duck breast was cooked perfectly, was so soft with sweet spices, went nicely with the pear puree. To this I tried a 2005 and 2001 vintage of the Chateau Oliver Rouge. The Rouge 2005 had a flowery, vanilla and cassis nose with a hint of smokiness. Full body but with a light mouthfeel, round on the palate with ripe purple fruit. Spice followed on the mid palate, and a current of vanilla supporting them all. Dry finish. Integrated tannins, but you could feel the dryness on the tongue. Long length. A very nice wine. The Rouge 2001 was medium garnet in the glass. Vanilla, cassis, and licorice with a restrained nose. Medium plus body, fry with medium plus acidity. Licorice and leather, dark cherries, and oak, with a peppery mid palate. Integrated tannins; dry but not puckering. Both wines were good pairings, but I give the Rouge 2005 a slight edge, due to the floweriness on the nose and the ripe fruit working with the lavender crust and sweet spices from the duck breast.
The sous vide lamb loin, was soft and juicy, loaded with flavour. To this was paired the Rouge 2009. This wine had a deep dark core with bright ruby rim. A flowery nose with vanilla and nutmeg scents. Full body, dry and round, with sweet ripe cherries and plum flavours. Firmer tannins than the other vintages and a bit hot on the tongue. Medium plus length. The 09 did not work well with the lamb loin, but the lamb loin was a good pairing for the 05 vintage.
A wonderful way to end any meal is with espresso chocolate cake paired with a Sauternes! The cake was very rich, dark chocolate, with pepperiness. The Chateau Armajan des Ormes Sauternes 2007 (made primarily from Semillon) had a sweet nose of honey and apricot. Medium body, round, sweet and peppery. Light mouthfeel on the palate. No complaints here on the pairing 🙂
A very enjoyable evening, with great company at my table. I did have a chance to talk with Alexandre about their winery which is always a treat. Thank you to the Vancouver International Wine Festival for allowing me to attend this dinner.